Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse and Trauma | Clint Davis
Clint Davis is an Army Veteran with a bachelor's in psychology and master's in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is an ordained minister and an LPC, trained in trauma and certified in sexual addiction recovery. Clint is trained in Natural Lifemanship, which is a trauma responsive equine therapy, where horses and humans connect and heal. He has worked, for over a decade, in ministry to help those out of human trafficking and poverty. Clint owns Clint Davis Counseling and Integrative Wellness. He has a team of mental health counselors and other medical professionals, who help people recover from trauma to the mind, body, and spirit. He also hosts the Asking Why podcast.
In this episode we discuss:
– Appropriate language and boundaries for children.
– Screen usage and what it does to young brains.
– How to heal from childhood trauma.
– Rules and protocols to protect your children from inappropriate content and behavior.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [0:00:01]
Welcome to the Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Showwhere I believe a healthy world is based on transparent conversations.This is Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, and I’m really excited to bring you this powerful episode. Here’s how I know Clint Davis. I recently gave a TEDx talk, andthere were a handful of other speakers. I listened to all of them. Clint blew my mind so much so that I wanted him on the show.
In this episode of The Dr. Gabrielle Lyon Show, this is all about children. Don’t turn it off. If you are a parent, or if you know a child, or if you are an aunt or an uncle or you interface with any children, this episode is for you, and it is an episode for you to share. We talk about protecting our children, protecting our children in life and from sexual predators, and how to create boundaries within themselves, so listen up. What is appropriate language, both sexual and non-sexual for children? What are children really seeing when they’re on that iPad or on YouTube? Are they really watching Cocomelon? What are the effects of screen time to how they process emotions? Also, what are they being shown?There’s this joke if you are a parent that kids don’t come with a guidebook and parenting doesn’t come with a guidebook. This conversation is the closest to a guidebook that I have ever heard.I was profoundly affected by the boundaries put into place for both parents and children. Please take a moment to listen to this episode.
Clint Davis is amazing.He’s an Army veteran. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. He’s also an ordained minister.He trained in trauma and trained in sexual addiction recovery. Clint is and has worked for over a decade to help those out of human trafficking and poverty.Clint owns Clint Davis Counseling & Integrative Wellness.He has a team of mental health counselors. They’re medical professionals who help people recover from trauma to the mind, body, and spirit, all the things that we find valuable. He hosts his own podcast called Asking Why. This is a powerful and important conversation. Please take a moment to like, subscribe, and share it. It had a profound impact on me, and I hope it has the same impact on you.
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Clint Davis, thank you so much for coming on the show. This episode is actually going to be a little bit different than the usual science-based strategies. But nonetheless, probably even more important than anything that I’ve spoken about, not all our children will be resilient andnot all our children will be okay. Clint Davis, you have worked in the area of human trafficking, trauma, sex addiction, please, how are we going to protect our children? Before that, I think that you offer hope, so tell me a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me on. We metduring the TED talk. I’ve been a counselor for about 15 years.I’m a licensed professional counselor with aMaster’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. A little bit of my story is just that I had my own trauma when I was a kid. My parents divorced when I was eight; some sexual trauma happened somewhere between 8 and 11, exposed to pornography, got into high school,felt a lot of shame about that, never told anybody about it,went through the normal typical, played sports, did my thing, did Taekwondo and martial arts and graduated in 2001. Second week of basic training, I joined the Army. 9/11 happened, so I got deployed to Afghanistan.
After that,came back from Afghanistan, had PTSD really bad, got into drugs, alcohol, drinking, all those kinds of things. So I started going to therapy.I had a meltdown.My mom came home. I remember laying on the floor, gripping the carpet, and I can still rememberhow the carpet feltin my mom’s living room. She’schanged it out since then. But she came home and got into therapy. Forme,I’m a Christian, and so I got into a Christian counselingsituation. He was also a licensed professional. It was really helpful.I thought it was the army PTSD, but it’s all this other stuff, too.
So I started doing that work and got some help, got deployed then to theSuperdome for Hurricane Katrina.I was in the National Guard at the time. I went down there, andthat was really worse than Afghanistan. I saw thingsthatthree hours from my house that I never thought that I’d see. So the PTSDkicked back in and I got back into some things that I shouldn’t be doing to cope and got back into therapy. That was helpful. So then after I got out of that, I wasin grad school or in college, and I’m like, what am I going to do? I knew therapy was super helpful for me,so I decided that I wanted to go back.But I didn’t want to just see Christians. I didn’t want to just do a faithbased. I wanted to have the secular training with the science and the research, so I ended up moving to California, getting my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. They basically havea master’s degree that’s solely masters and then you also can get some theology with that if you want it.
I did that, andI came back to Shreveport, started my practice, worked in human trafficking for about 10 years with purchase not for sale, which is a nonprofit there.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:09:05]
What did you do in human trafficking?
Clint Davis [0:09:07]
I wrote the curriculum. We had two or three homes where women would come there.It’s still open, they still do it. We’ve worked with the FBI and local law enforcement to– women would come out of trafficking from the FBI, or they’d get caught on a sting. We would bring them into our program, and they would live for two years in houses that were purchased for them. They would come up to our classes. My practice was at the same place that purchase was at the time. They would do Bible studies, trauma recovery, EMDR, counseling and group classes.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:09:41]
That’s probably tough.
Clint Davis [0:09:42]
Oh, it was rough. At the time,I was seeing all of them one on one. There were women that would say, this is the first time I’ve ever been in the room with a man and shut the door and it not be about sex. It was amazing to see one, just the humility that I had to learn and gain working with these women and just the trust they built in me and the stories.But you also hear some really horrible things that humans do to one another. Some of those things still stick with me.I’ve been going to therapy myself for 20 years to deal with all that, so I tell all my clients, I’m like, hey, I do the same thing. I sit on the couch. In my opinion, if you’re worth your salt, then you’d do the same thing you’re asking people to do.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:10:22]
Iwatched your TEDx; I was actually there. It profoundly impacted me, and I want to tell you why. Obviously, I have two very little children. I know the world that we’re in. The world that we’re in doesn’t seem to be getting kinder; it seems to be getting worse. The children that we have the honor and privilege to protect need our protection.You said a couple of things. You talked a lot about sexual neglect. We’re going to speak in great detail about all the things. One of the things that you had said that I was so surprised by, youtell the story about yourmom. You have two boys, the grandmotherwho got kicked out of the bathroom because your son said, well, Grandma, you can’t see my penis. I just thought, gosh, I don’t know if I have those boundaries in place for my children. How am I going to protect them from early pornography? How am I going to protect them from other children, from any of these other things? What you saidjust really struck me. I would love for you to talk a little bit about theTEDx, and everyone who’s listening is going to watch it because you will forever be changed. I want to talk about what you talked about during that and this concept of sexual childhood neglect, which I had never heard of.
Clint Davis [0:11:52]
There’s the ACEs study, which is adversechildhood experiences. There’s 10 of them, and you hear about this in the TED talk, but essentially, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and then physical and emotional neglect, andthen some other ones that have to do with imprisonment and drugs and a bunch of other important things. But as I’ve done my training as a therapist and as I’ve worked with people, my own experience was my parents never talked to me about sexual development, proper terms for my body parts, private partsspecifically, consent, or just sexual development and body safety in general.I never had those conversations, and neither did any of the people around me. When those things happen, normal sexual developmental things, kids playing, kids growing into puberty, things happen with cousins and with neighbors and with people thatnow I look back on and realize were extremely traumatic, shaped the way I thought about myself, my body, and other people. That was always very private. I never told anybody that until I was about 25, until I met my wife, and she was like, oh, I had similar things happen and so did so and so. Then as I was working with clientsI was seeing, many of them tell me the same stories. I had a 73-year-old woman that told meher dadsexually abused her. I’m the first personshe’s telling, and she’s 73.That’s wild. That’s a long time to hold a secret and hold something that’s private. There are many people in the trafficking industry that came out and that I worked with that would tell me, this happened.This happened, but I never knew. My parents never told me.They never explained that to me. It’s not to blame parents. Many parents today listen to this. Maybe they haven’t.Maybe you felt a little shame or anxiety whenever you heard it, like, oh, man, I’m not having these conversations.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:13:39]
Meaning, they hadconversations withmy daughter about it’s not a made-up name.That’s your vagina, and nobody else can touch it, and no one else can see it.Where do we start? What are these age-appropriate ways, and how do you define sexual neglect?
Sexual neglect to me is a kid growing up from birth to adulthood without healthy and age-appropriate conversationsaboutbody safety, sexual development in general,proper terms for private parts, and consent.That’s what I’m defining. On that ACEs study, what’s not there? There’s sexual abuse andsexual trauma, but there’s not sexual neglect.When people hearsexual neglect as adults, sometimes they thinklike in marriage; I’m not getting enough sex. My husband’s neglecting me, or my wife’s neglecting me. I mean the opposite. I mean, for children, it’s not educating them on appropriateness, not educating them on normal developmental things like erections or menstruation or masturbation. These are things that every human being experiences. But when a child experiences them, and they don’t know they’re going to happen, then fear and shame and surprise is what they get. The way that affects their neurology and their arousal template and what they like and don’t like and what they think about themselves and other people is extremely toxic. Then they go onnot to talk about it.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:15:01]
If an individual suffers childhood sexual neglect and these age-appropriate conversations don’t happen,and they internalize these feelings of shame, are they more likely to become promiscuous, to make really poor sexual decisions? Do we know if there’s some downstream effect?
I would say with all the other research on sexuality that we would know, I don’t think there’s been enough research done on this topic. When I go to places and speak, I’ll get to thissubject, and I’ll say, hey, okay, I want you to be brave. I want you to raise your hand, I did it at the TED talk,if your parents taught you aboutmasturbation. Everywhere I’ve gone, there could be 3,000 people or 5,000 people or 400, I’ve never had any more thanthree or four people raise their hand. Now, you could argue, well, they’re just embarrassed,they never raise their hand. Probably. But it’s consistent. It’s over 400 times that I’ve done that, andin my personal life and in my clinical life, and then when I talked to other therapists, and we were talking about this before, but just this morning, I was eating breakfast, and my waiter came up, and he was asking me what I do. What are you doing today?I told him, I was coming on your podcast.If you’re listening, Ben, hey.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [0:16:14]
You better be listening.
Clint Davis [0:16:15]
That’s right. So he was like, well, what are you working on? I said, well, my book cover. I’m writing a book, and it’s coming out. He asked me the title, and I told him.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:16:22]
What’s the title?
Clint Davis [0:16:23]
Building Better Bridges: A Guidebook To Having Difficult Conversations That Can Save Our Kids.I told him, and he was like, man, I was sexually abused when I was a kid, and my wife was in a trafficking situation. Wemetand got married because of our trauma. We’ve been working that out. It just hit me, it shows the statistical– it’s not rare. If my waiter, just by mentioning, is like, hey, me, too, and everywhere that I go and have these conversations, then that’s been the feedback that I’ve had is that when I start to have this conversation with anybody, I’ll be at coffee with a pastor, andI’ll say, here’s what sexual neglect is. They’re like, wait,that happened to mewhen I was eight. I didn’t know that was trauma.I just thought everybody went through that, or I didn’t even remember that happened. That’s just happened time and time again. So that’s what formed trying to figure out the definition.
I describe itas not teaching your kids to cross the street. When you neglect someone, it’s not intentional. We’re not trying to neglect our kids. But when wedon’t teach our kids hold my hand, look both ways, stay on the sidewalk, watch out for cars, what’s going to happen?They’re going to be hit by cars when they walk out andhave no expectations. It’s the same way in our homes when it comes to private parts, screens, technology, social media, who can touch you, who can’t? What is that private part called? When we do not discuss those things, when we don’t have the conversation, then we don’t build a bridge between us and our child that can hold those heavy things. That’s the concept of the book is these conversations over time, from young to old kids, build bridges that once you’re going to have, let’s say, you’re going to have the sex talk at 11 or 12, if you haven’t had any conversations about sexuality or private parts or body parts at all, and then you go, hey, I’m going to tell you about where the birds and the bees come from, then the kid freaks out or they feel weird or they feel uncomfortable. It’s because you haven’t built a bridge between you and your child strong enough to handle it. Then at 15, you want to talk to them about sex with their girlfriend or protection or masturbation. Well, you’ve missed it byfour years. Developmentally, they’ve already been experiencing that since 12, 13. Now they’re two or three years in, and you’re wanting to, as a parent, go in and have this awkwardconversation. They’re like,I don’t want to have this. The idea is that these parents are saying, well, these are hard and difficult conversations. Well, they are if you don’t scaffold along the way.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:18:53]
It’s interesting, you mentioned that about your waiter, and you gave me some numbers earlier.
92% of sexual abuse happens by someone you know.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:19:12]
92% of sexual abuse happens by someone you know. Then you had also said that one out of three girls will experience sexual trauma, and one out of five boys will experience sexual trauma. I know that you believe that these numbers are totally underreported.
Clint Davis [0:19:27]
That’s not my numbers. That’s the statistical numbers fromall the research. Some say 1 in 11 boys, some say one in five. There’s a bunch of different variables. But if you think about it, you have 100 people in the roomwhat one in three girls means.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:19:45]
Clint Davis [0:19:46]
It is insane.That’s sexual abuse. That’s not counting just if a child was at a sleepover at eight, and someone touched their private part or a siblingrubbed their private part while sleeping.Those things are very common as well.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:19:59]
How do we define those?That would not be—
Clint Davis [0:20:01]
I would call it sexual trauma. The reason I call it trauma is because if the child has no clue what’s happening and what’s going on, and they get an erection, or they get turned on in some way, then they feel shame. They feel excited, and they feel confused. Then they go on toact those things out, play those things out sometimes with other children. People are giving their kids phones about at 10 years old now. Let’s say they have, I think it’s somewhere at 83% of parents have no rules for devices.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:20:39]
83% of parents have no rules for devices, meaning they can look at whatever they want, or there’s no defined screen time, all that stuff.
Clint Davis [0:20:47]
Right. They don’t have an app on their phone that blocks any pornography. They don’t have a screen time.They don’t monitor, they don’t sit and watch it when they watch YouTube, none of those things. If that’s going on and let’s say an eight- or nine-year-old is on your phone, and they’re in their room, and they’re playing YouTube Kids or whatever, and YouTube suggests another link, and they click the link, and there’s pornography, well, they’d watch it for a few minutes.It’s not that these kids are going and looking for it.It’s that they get exposed to it, well, then they’re curious. So then they go back to it, and they go back to it. Well then that kid goes to a sleepover at 11 or 12 or 10, and they play a game.They play what they’ve seen, and they get someone to touch them, or they ask them to touch them. Well, the kid who has never seen anythingnow is violated and now exposed to it through this other child. That child leaves and maybenobody ever finds out. Now this child is at a sleepover with another cousin and on and on the problem goes. I would say to our listeners, the thing that’s common for me is, I get nervous talking about this becauseI’m very mindful about how people feel and how triggering things can be for people. People listening to this right nowcan be replaying some of the things that happened to them.I hate that. At the same time, if we don’t talk about it, then we’re never going to do anything about it. The confidence that I’ve gotten over the last four years is,I know that people listening to this are thinking of things that happened that are in the same vein. That they’re like, oh, my that did happen. Ipushed it over, and my parents yelled at me, or I got in trouble, or they blame me for it. When in reality, you should have never been put in that position in the first place.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:22:31]
That puts a lot of responsibility on the parent. So parents listening, parents, aunts, uncles, anybody listening, it is your opportunity and responsibility to step in. How do we create more resilient children? Now you have the penis rules in your house? I’m assuming we should probably have those in ours. You’ve developed tools and ways of having these conversations. Again, I was thinking about it because I watched this TEDx talk. I called Shane, my husband, immediately after. I said, Shane, there’s no more babysitters in the bathroom withAries, our daughter who isturning four. We also have to think about my son who’s two and a half. When do we start teaching them? When is it too early? When is it age appropriate? What are some rules and things that we can do right now? Anyone that has little children, what can they do to make sure that their children, they’re protected and resilient?
Yeah,absolutely.I think age appropriate is the most important thing about the wholeconversation because people freak out. We talked about right now popularity in the news is the drag queensituation andpeople having drag queens come and read at a library to little children and all those sorts of things. For me, I’m fine with adults doing whatever adults want to do. I don’t care what religion you are, what sexual orientation you have, I want you to feel loved and feel safe. If you’re in contact with me, I’m going to try to make you feel that way. I’ll go to dinner with you, I’ll love on you. What I’m concerned about is the hyper sexualization of children and exposing them to things that before puberty, before they’re even ready, during puberty while their hormones are racing everywhere, andthen after puberty whenthey’ve been neglectedand they have no context fortheir bodies or anything else. Age appropriate is important because you’re not going to talk to your three-year-old about masturbation; that’s not the conversation. What you might talk to your three-year-old about is, hey, you’re touching– like my son, for example, I give the example in the book, but my son, he’s threeand a half, four.He’s in the bathtub, and he’s swimming back and forth on the porcelain tub, and he stands up and he’s, Daddy, my penis hurts. He’s got an erection. I said, yeah, buddy. I was like, what were you doing? He’s like, I was rubbing my penis on the bathtub. I’m like, well, if you rub your penis, it’s going to be filled with blood, and it’s going to hurt. I was like, so your penis is for tee teeing in the potty. Don’t do that if you don’t want it to hurt.
That was a simple conversation, but those conversations have happened multiple times. He’s laying in the bed next to me, and he’s messing with his penis or his testicles. I’m like, hey, buddy, what are you doing? He’s like, rubbing my penis. I’m like, okay. I was like, that’s no problem. What’s going on? He’s like, well, it feels good. I’m like, I understand, let’s put our hands up on the covers. Your penis isfor teeteeing.Let’s leave it alone for right now. He’s like, okay.
It’s a simple conversation. I’m not shaming him. I’m not making him feel bad about it. I’m not saying that touching your penis is right or wrong. But as an early kid, I want him to know, I’m really comfortable with talking to you about this. If you have questions about it, you can talk to daddy; it’s not a big deal. It’s just your body and it’s good, and God made it good. Then as he gets older,there’s a bridge there where he’s like, okay, I’ll come to dad and say, hey, why does this happen? What are these things that are underneath my penis? Why are they getting bigger? We get so uncomfortable with talking about these things as adults because we’ve sexualized everything. But a kid before puberty is not thinking erotically.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:25:55]
A kid before puberty is not thinking erotically.
No. Neurologically, they’re not thinking about having sex with another person.So when they hear the word penis, that’s not a sexual or erotic term to them. It’s just a body part. They know there’s something different about it and that it’s private, but they don’t have the developmental stage to understandsexuality at five when it comes to eroticism and sex with somebody else.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:26:22]
What are the rules that you put into place in your house? What are these penis rules? What exactly are they? What age should we have that penis or vagina rules?
It’s as soon as we talk about the word, penis, which is as soon as they start asking us. We started using it beforeeven in diapers andeven when they were toddlers. That’s your penis. This is your anus.This is your body part. Then if it was a daughter, I’d say this is your vagina. This is what this is and why it is. We just had those conversations normally, so it’s never weird. They’re not running around the church halls jumping up the pews yelling, penis.But if they did—
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:26:58]
My kids are right now.
Clint Davis [0:26:59]
They are now.At six and seven, they say penis all the time at the house. They’re just constantly farting and penis and butt and everything else.That’s normal. But again, I want to go back and want people to understand that we have a history of sexual stuff in our lives, erotic stuff. When we say the word penis, we think of what we’ve done with our penis. We think of the sexual things, the pornography, the exposure, the trauma that we’ve had, and it makes us uncomfortable. When a kid hears the word penis, they think of it as like arm or leg. We have, as a culture, removed using these terms and saying tallywacker, noo-noo, cookie, wee-wee.What that actually does, research shows, is that it makes it taboo and makes it this other thing.When a person says, hey, let me touch your cookie, or let me do this, or a child tries to describe that someone’s touched them inappropriately and they don’t have the proper terms, then we miss it sometimes.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:27:53]
In order to avoid that, I think, how many rules are there? They’re five rules.
Yes. I know you want to get to those rules. We have a sheet that we print out; you can find it on our podcast.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:28:08]
It was just so helpful because that’s why I want the listener to know.
Absolutely. It’ll be in the book. It’s things like no one touches my private parts but me.We don’t keep secrets. I explained to my kids the difference between secrets and surprises. At our house, mommy and daddy don’t even use the word. I never say this is a secret for mommy, even if it’s about cookies. We don’t use any of those terms.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:28:31]
You say this as a surprise.
It’s a surprise. We’renot going to tell mommy because she’s going to find out, and we’re going to surprise her with it. But I don’t say hey, we’re going to watch a movie, don’t tell mom. It’s a secret. What happens is that when a kid knows the word secret is a no-no and it’s a red flag, if someone else says, hey, don’t tell your momthis. It’s a secret. Boom, there’s a neurological pathway that’s been built in their brain and a family value that tells them wait a second, this is dangerous. This is different. This is weird. If they’re from it from a safe family, then they don’t want to do something that’s weird. It’s kids that come from broken homes or unsafe homes or abuse, they look for connection and other things. But when a kid has connection, they’re not looking for deep connection. They’re going, that’s not connection. That’s different than what I feel safe with. Nobody would watch me except for my parents.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:29:27]
What happens when they go to daycare or school? How does that play out?
It’s an interesting thing.I think there’s a conversation that parents should have with their daycare workers and with their babysitters. I think we have to be more mindful. Here’s the deal. If you’re a person who has sexually abused someoneas an adult or a teen, and you plan on doing that sort thing, the number one reason that you wouldn’t do it is because you don’t want to get caught. If you go into your babysitter’s room or office or wherever,or you go into the daycare and you have a list of these rules and you bring it to them and say, we’re aware that these things happen. We’re not saying you’re going to do it. But we want you to knowwe’ve talked to our kids about these things.They know their private parts. They know who can touch them, whenand where that is. They know who to tell. They know if they see something inappropriate on your phone or on a screenthat they’re going to come and tell me.We’ve worked on that.That person, even if they’re thinking about sexually abusing your child, is going to pick someone else. Does that make sense?I hate to be that way because it soundsso hard.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:30:31]
You have to have open, transparent conversation.
Clint Davis [0:30:33]
There are enough victims for perpetrators to find.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:30:36]
I would think that potentially, daycare, if someone had thaturge and behavior, it would be a perfect place,unfortunately.
The minimizing it is just talking about it,just having the conversation. That babysittercomesover to your home and even if they have a planor maybe they don’t have a plan and maybe they’re triggered in their head and they think to do something, if you’ve already given them the list, they’re going to go,not this house. I’m not doing it here. That’s what we have to do. We have to show that our kids are not prey, and that we are not victims, and that we know we’re empowered to protect our children. But we can’t do that if we don’t deal with our own stuff. If we, as adults don’t stop avoiding our own trauma and our own issues and our own shame and understand why these things happen, where they’re coming from, and what to do about them.I think it’s so important. I tried to lay that on the book. I go throughzero to four. I think it’s five to seven, 7 to 12, 12 to 18. It’s a generalrule of thumb. It’s not for every kid. But here are the conversations you should be having. Here’s how to have them. I give examples, clinical examples, personal examples, and just really try to walk people through those things.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:31:49]
Again, ever sinceyour TEDx talk, I’ve really been rethinking what I allow my children to do. I’m going to give you examplebecause if I’m experiencing this, I’m assuming that the other listeners areand other parents are experiencing this. My daughter is very warm and loving and loves to run up and hug people. It could be a man, it could be a woman, even people she doesn’t know. Initially, which I want to have this conversation with you, I told her, this isn’t a friend. I don’t mean to be rude to the other person, but you’re just running up and hugging them. We have to know somebody before we’re doing thatbecause she’s tiny,so it’s right in their crotch. Is that appropriate, or am I creating trauma and bringing in an early fear or shame when I say– she doesn’t really care what I say, but am I doing that wrong?
No, I think it’s important to set those boundaries with our kids. That’s the consent part. The other person needs consent, too.It’s great to teach them like you asked and not with friends, not with people you know, but with strangers.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:33:05]
But if 92% of sexual abuse is someone you know, shouldn’t there be–
–a red flag there? Yes, because again, we don’t know the babysitters.We don’t knowthe uncles. We don’t know the kids down the street. We don’t really know them. I think that we have to teach our kids to be aware of when things are weird. Again, they’re not going to be perfect; they’re kids.We don’t want to make them feel afraid. That’s the biggest thing I talked about in the book is, I don’t want parents to freak out about this stuff. The solutions are very simple. The conversations are very easy.They’re just very uncomfortable. They’re uncomfortable because of our own trauma and our own experiences. If we can have these conversations openly and make them make sense, then when we have them with our kids, we can be authentic.It gets weird when we act weird about it with our kids. When we’re just like, hey, listen, that’s not what we’re going to do. Do you see mommy running up and just hugging random people at the store? Hugs are great. We should hug all the people we love. That’s a very good thing. But we need to be carefulwith people because they might not want a hug, or they might be scared of hugs, or you might surprise them. You can say all kinds of things with kids that are fun and not serious. But it gets the point across to them.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:34:14]
I really liked that. I’m going to employ that immediately and tell her that she should ask consent.Do you think that’s enough to protect her?
No. I mean, that’s the very beginning of the conversation. Our kids are going to get exposed to something.They’re going to see something online at some point. The years that we have with them from zero to nine or 10, 11, that’s building the bridges.That’scontinuing to pave thisneurology and this pathway and this automatic response to hey, I need to be mindful about this. Hey, I need to pay attention to that.That’s not whatour family does.Here’s our family values. That’s the biggestthing I’d say whateverreligious background you have, or non-religious background, whatever it is, it’s our job as parents to teach our kids our values around sex and private parts and sexuality. It’s not my job to tell anybody what they should beteaching their kids. What my job is to show that no one’s teaching their kids, and we got to teach them.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:35:10]
Nobody is teaching their kids, and we have to teach them.
If people listen to this, same question, did your parents talk to you about masturbation? Did your parents talk to you about menstruation? The amount of women that I’ve had conversations with who had their period at a swim party, who didn’t even know they were going to have one, didn’t have a tampon, didn’t know how to use it, and some othermom came over to help them. That was it. It was never discussed again.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:35:35]
Do you think it’s just oversight? No, that seems silly. But could it just be oversight of a parent because for them, it’s so normal.
Clint Davis [0:35:43]
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:35:44]
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That’s what I said, neglect is not intentional.It’s oh, that’s justwhat’s going to happen, and it’ll happen. But the important thing is to be right before the age-appropriate time. Not 10 years before and not four years before, but you look at your child and you understand their development andyou see that maybe some hairs growing on their legs, or maybe these things are starting to happen. You say, okay, I’m going to have to start having this conversation. With my kids, we’ve already had the erection conversation. He already knows why his penis gets hard. But we haven’t had a masturbation conversation; he’s eight and a half. I know in the next couple of years, we’re going to start having to have the sex conversation.How do humans procreate?Where to babies come from? Where does it all happen? Because I want him to feel comfortable with it and know that’s, in my opinion, how God wired us to create babies and create humans and that’s where he came from. After that, I know I’m going to have to have the masturbation conversation because I don’t want to have the masturbation conversation first when he doesn’t understand the mechanics of what all of that’s really intended for. If I have that masturbation conversation first just because he’s rubbing his penis, then I’m skipping all kinds of normal developmental stuff that’s confusing to him.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:39:58]
That brings up a really good point.There are age-appropriatephysiological check marks that happen, and we shouldn’t be exposing children before that.
No. If they get exposed to that, then obviously you have to speed the timeline up some.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:40:12]
Let me give you an example. I would love your input as to how to manage this. My daughter loves to watch nature shows and real-life interaction. She really loved the show called The Tall Girls, or Tall Girl, andI think the girl is 6’4”.I realized, in hindsight, it’s totally not age appropriate. It’s a high schooler who is then kissing another boy. Now she’s witnessed it. She loves the show. What do I do?
Clint Davis [0:40:49]
How old is she?
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:40:50]
She’s going to be four. But she will talk about, oh, are you getting married?
My boys call it a married kiss. They’re like, we want to give you a married kiss, mom. That’s normal developmental stuff. That’s what I don’t want parents to do is freak out because their kids being a normal kid, they’re going to say funny stuff about their private parts. They’re going to say things, but they don’t mean what you think they mean.Ifthey haven’t been exposed to pornography, if they haven’t been exposed toplay sexual touch with other children, if they haven’t seen content that, they’re not going to come up with it. They don’t have a memory bank of this inappropriate stuff like we do as adults. I think we should limit that as much as possible. We were letting our kids watch Power Rangers. I realizedafter a couple episodes, it’s a bunch of teenagers dating and having conversation, I’m done. Even at schoolat seven, they were talking about having crushes. People think that’s cute.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:41:46]
No, it’s too young.
I don’t think it’s cute. I think it’s hyper sexualizing our kids for something that they’re not developmentally ready for. I think it sets them up to project and play out things that they’re not ready for. Just like my kids think they’re Transformers or think they’re Pokemon cards, or they’re going to be a dog for a weekbecause they saw something they like and thought it was funny, they’re going to play out what they see when it comes to marriage and house and all this stuff. When we let them at 10 watch a show that’s for teenagers, then we’re fast forwarding their actual developmental experience in life. Now, if you have older siblings,all that’s going to happen. I’m not saying keep them in a bubble.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:42:24]
Well, I mean, if you can, for certain things, there’s going to be enough trauma and experience that they’re going to have.
That’s the point.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:42:30]
We didn’t have the internet. People always talk about nutrition and the Paleolithic way of eating. Well, if you translate that over to interfacing with other humans, we did not have a ton of pornography. We did not have a ton of internet or tall girl kissing or Power Rangers. Everything is– I know, maybe the kids shouldn’t be in a bubble. But potentially–
I think a bubble from those things is appropriate. They’re going to see enough things in life in public. They’re going to see people kiss and hold hands and different genders do different things, and you get to have conversations and just normal life. For thousands of years, that’s been the case. But only until the last 15 has that really been an option for our children. Think about it. If you’re a little girl and you want to learn about what little girls or women think about sex or women think about anything, 15, 16 years ago, you would have to walk over to a group of women and ask them. You would have to have a community where you go, there’s 10 or so women drinking coffee or having tea. Hey, ladies, tell me about boys. Tell me about men, and they would tell you.Today you can go on YouTube or TikTok and listen to a thousand different women tell you a thousand different versions of all of that unfiltered. It’s the same thing with little boys. Is technology amazing? Yes, there’s so much good information out there. But children cannot handle it. They have no prefrontal cortex. They have no ability to manage their emotions and their rational and logical thinking.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:43:58]
Can you explain that a little bit?
Clint Davis [0:44:00]
That’s one of the major problems, I think, in parenting is that the word parenting didn’t come into the English language until 1958.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:44:09]
What do they call it before?
Raising children. You didn’t have babysitters. People lived in a rural community. Their village raised them together. There wasn’t really a psychological concept of these two people; what’s a male and a female do and how do they interact? How does that socially affect us because we didn’t have child psychology or any of those things yet. In the ‘50s, ‘60s, and‘70s, we started trying to figure that out. The technology came around where we had brain scans, and we could study neurology, and we could see how dopamine happens in effect.We act like we’re so far in and we’re so smart, but we’re really60, 70 years into figuring out how a child actually develops. I mean, for goodness sakes, in the ‘40s and ‘50s, we cut into soldiers’ brainsbecause wethought that they had a demon or that their fluid was different after they came back from war instead of understanding that post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s the same thing with kids. Around the ‘50s and ‘60s, we started looking atthe kid’s brain and how they’re functioning. I think now as parents, our parents would have said, well, there wasn’t a book for this. They didn’t give me a book whenyou came out.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:45:20]
Now you have one.
We have a lot. We have a lot of things that tell us how kids are affected by different types of discipline, or different types of behaviors or timeouts or time ends. I think we should look at that and research that and really understand what they’re developmentally capable of doing and what they’re not, and then what is age appropriate and what’s not.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:45:41]
Without having that prefrontal cortex, that way ofhaving a logical and brakes on action, number one, how much TV, electronics should someone have? What are the implications of the life that we now live that we feel is normal?
People are probably going to call me crazy, but we do no screen time during the week. The only time they get screen time is on the weekends. Usually, Saturday and Sunday, they can have somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes to an hour. We may do a movie. We may do Incredibles or something like that, and we may do an hour and a half with that. But that’s usually a treat. What I see in my kids is that they’re sensory overloaded when they get too much screen time. When they start their day off with a screen, they’re more impulsive, they’re more chaotic, they’re more tired, they’re moreall those things. We’ve just limited that, and our kids never asked for it. They don’t know. My children never asked to touch my phone. They never touched it. They never asked me to touch it because they just have never known that they could.We don’t have iPads that they watch. Now a parent might be thinking, how do I function in life and the world that we live in without all that?
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:46:56]
It’s going to be hard.
Clint Davis [0:46:57]
Yeah, it is difficult. Parenting is difficult. But what we knowis we’re living in a time where we didn’t have it 15 years ago, we didn’t have it when we were kids, andnow we have it, and we don’t know what we’re doing. The other thing I do, which has been really sad and awesome in the last couple years, is I’ve been speaking a lot to teenagers and talking to them about their phones and how they can self-regulate and take a break, take a 30-day break. If you’ve never not had a phone or not had social media, you don’t know what it’s like to not have it. So I say raise your hand if you have a phone. Everybody’s hands go up.All the teenagers, when I say,keep your hand up if you have TikTok or Instagram, and all their hands stay up. I say, now parents, I want you to watch. Look around. Now keep your hand up if your parent taught you how to use your phone or social media; all their hands go down. There might be five people in the room that have their hand up.
That’s the majority of our culture is that teenagers have social media, they have phones that they don’t know how to use. They don’t know dangers, they don’t know red flags, they don’t know how to appropriately communicate, they don’t know how to have text chat and do that in a healthy way. I mean, they just literally changed the iPhone where now we can delete text that we’ve sent. We can delete them because people are sending so many things that they regret. That’s why the iPhone updated so where we can delete our text because we’re like, ooh, I shouldn’t have sent that picture.I shouldn’t have sent that text.I shouldn’t have sent that email because I did it in the moment, and I need to get that back. I want them to unsee it. I don’t want them to be able to see it. If we do that as adults, think about how many kids are sending and doing.The stats onchildren sending nude pictures is, I think, 37% of kids. Now this is an old stat, but have sent a nude picture to another child.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:48:40]
Clint Davis [0:48:41]
Oh, anywhere from, if they have a phone.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:48:44]
What are some of the tools in the book? What are we going to do?Obviously starts with parents, but what are we going to do to change the course of what’s happening? Do you think that there’s going to be two divisions; one, individuals that are just totally anti-phone, anti-socialmedia? Tim Kennedy, they have an amazing amazing school where it really is about potentially how it used to be decades ago, about how they’re thinking and they’re engaging and they’re learning how to move. From a personal perspective, where are we going to go, and how are we going to interface this?
I think that’s what we’re going to have to do is, I think technology is great. I think children having technology they don’t know how to use is the most dangerous thing we’ve put into the culture. This stuff with sexual neglect in the book and the trauma, that is really almost a separate issue. In my opinion, that’s the precursor. That’s what I’m talking about is that I love that people are talking about social media and cell phones and we’re all aware that those are problematic. If any of us have social media, and you’re listening to this, you know that you don’t like it. You knowyou don’t like how it makes you feel. You know you don’t like the comparison game. You know you don’t like all of the things that go with it. But it’s so stimulating with dopamine that you keep doing it because it’s giving you these little highs, and there’s a bunch of research on that.
What I’m saying is that before kids even get a phone, they’ve already been exposed to pornography, they’ve already been sexually abused, they’ve already been traumatized, and then they get a phone that no one’s teaching them how to use, that no one’s teaching them how to protect themselves from.The stats on private messaging and sexting and all these things in this 10 to 13- to 14-year-old agerange is so high. Since2010, and this is Coddling of the American Mind, it’s a great book, and we also saw it on Netflix documentary on technology,there’s been a 200% increase or so in teen self-harm or suicide. We have so many more kids cutting themselves, harming themselves,eating disorders, chronicself-destructive behavior since 2010. That’s about when social media came on the landscape for teenagers.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:51:09]
We as adults can’t even regulate ourselves.
Clint Davis [0:51:12]
No. I can’t regulate my phone.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:51:14]
How are we on earth going to help regulate our children?
Well, first, that’s a great word. But regulating in general, self-regulation, is something we forget that we need to teach children. I do all the time.I’m not a perfect parent. My kids are five and a half and eight and a half, andI found myselfwanting to lose my mind on them, and I have a fully functioning adult brain, and they have a very tiny brain. This is the first time they’ve ever been five and nine, and yet I’m expecting them tonot ever lose a fit, not ever cry, not ever be exhausted, not ever be hungry, not ever be frustrated. In my moment, I might just get it together sometimes. I’m just trying to get out the house to go do this podcast,can you just let me leave? All the things that we as parents constantly battle, but if we understand who they are and how they’re wired, then we can realize thatthey’re just little babies. They’re just little baby kids, and we’re exposing them to all these things and leaving them to the wolves essentially, andthen we’re putting a device in their hand and not teaching them how to use it. My example in the bookthat I love is that I wish that people treated a cell phone like a driver’s license. Think about it this way because people are like, do you just not give them a phone until 18? Well, of course not. You have to teach your kid how to use those things.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:52:30]
There are other ways. They don’t need to have a phone. They can have a tracking device on them;you can find them.
Absolutely. There’s the Gabb Phone. Android just came out with a new Bark Phone, which is another great app. There are phones that they can get where you can text, you can call, and you can have certain music, but you can’t get on the internet, you can’t download apps, you can’t do social media, so look into those. But what I was going to say was the driver’s license idea is,in my opinion,pretty revolutionary. Remember when you were 11or 12, some of us,our parents let us sit in their laps, maybe they let us drive down a dirt road or in a parking lot. We got tofeel what it was like to be an adult and behind the wheel.I have horrible memories of that, my dad getting supermad and slamming the door and getting out because I couldn’tfigure out the stick shift. But I rememberfiguring it out on my own anddriving around the backyard in this Isuzu pickup. The cell phone could be the same way; 11 or 12, maybe you let them start every once in a while, looking something up on your phone, maybe start working with an iPad, maybe start trying to figure that out. But you’re sitting right beside them, watching them and showing them what to do. Hopefully, you’re not getting up and throwing the iPad, but you’re like, here’s what to do.
Then at 13 or 14, we get our learner’s permit. We go to take a class and a course, and we test and make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, and we’re not going to get out thereand hurt somebody. But then we’re driving the car and ourparent’s sitting right beside us to make sure we know the rules of the road, that we know what to look out for. We know the red flags, we know what to protect ourselves from, and for them as our guides to be like, okay, I trust you a little more. I see how you’re working. We’re talking about the stuff. Maybe I’ll let you drive up to the store. Maybe you’re going to the interstate now. We’ll build up to that. Then at 16, you take a driver’s ed course. You’re in there with a bunch of other teenagers learning about the rules of the road, the dangers, and then you take driver’s ed and you actually take a test where you drive. I’ll never forget, you’re looking around, and you’re like, okay, how do I put my seatbelt on and turn the steering wheel? Youfreak out on those driver’s ed test because you’re overwhelmed.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:54:36]
You want to see that for social media and for phones.
I want to see that for phones in general and social media. If you’re going to give your kid a phone, are you not going to teach them how to use it? If you think they’re just going to be okay, what we’ve forgotten is that these apps and these companiesare sending your children things.They’re sending text messages.They’resendingbots.They’re sending direct messages.Every time it’sChristmas or Valentine’s Day, the amount of lingerie ads I get in my Stories that I’m not looking for, but they’re right there.Some girlin a thong walking across the thing, and I was looking atjiu-jitsuvideosright before. If I know I’m getting that, then our kids are going to get that. Are they going to click on it? Are they going to go down the rabbit hole?
We have to scaffold that and teach them. If we teach them resiliency, we build resiliencyaround technology, and we prepare for what they’re going to see in person and online, then they’re going to have the resiliency to go, yeah, we don’t do that. Yeah, that’s provocative, and I kind of like it. Even if they do, because they’re going to mess up, you know what they’re going to do?They’re going to tell me, and they’re going to go, hey, dad, I saw one of those ads. It made me feel really weird like you told me it was. I’m going to go, dude, that’s totally okay.Women are beautiful.Men are beautiful. God created them in this way, andthey’re awesome. But if you go down thatroad, this is what’s going to happen with your body. This is what’s going to happen. These are the risks around addiction with these things. In my opinion, we should be not just throwing ourselves into all those things and creating a Frankenstein monster of memory and experiences that then we bring into marriage.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:56:21]
These are all just so importantbecause the generations that are going to come from our children are just going to perpetuateforward. If we can really manage ourselves, self-regulate ourselvesand really put these guardrails up, I think it’s tremendous. What are absolute knows or moderate knows?
I have a hard time with absolutes because I know that everybody’s got tough situations. There are single parents out there. There are parents with sensory issues. There are kids who have a hard time listening. Then there’s kids where there’s two options, there’s prevention and recovery. Some people listening to this right now, they’re like, Clint, I have a 16-year-old, I have a 17 year, I have a 22 year old, I have a 14 year old, I have done none of the things you’re saying.My comment to you is, it’s okay. We all make mistakes. You didn’t know. You didn’t mean to do this. Nobodytook the phone and was like, hey, you know what? Let’s give it to a hundred peopleand let’s see how that goes. It’s the first thing in society that’s technological that we just threw into society.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:57:26]
It’s totally unregulated.
Clint Davis [0:57:27]
Yeah, and one night, we had a razor phone if we were really cool. The next night, we had the iPhone 1. No one tested it out. Now we’re actually at the Congressional hearing, we had some people coming out and showing they did know how it was affecting anxiety, they did know some of these things, andyet they put it out anyway.I think that we have to get better at being aware as parents, making our kids aware, and again,just teaching them these regular thingsbecause they are our future.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:57:57]
Talk to me about sleepovers, camp. Am I missing anything?
There’s a lot.Anytime your kid’s away from you, and they’re not supervised by you, and they’re supervised by somebody you don’t know, I’d say the biggest thing is for you just to go have a conversation with those people andtell them your rules. Tell them your culture. I think research shows that that’ll reduce sexual abuse by 82% to 83%, something like that. They’re statistics, so it’snot a hundred percent accurate. But my point is that if we know that people who want to abuse our children are also neglected abused people,they’ve also experienced these things, and they want to get away with it. They want to do it privately. They’re not out trying to get caught, then the solution, the bridge is the conversation. If you go to a camp and you say, hey, I’m Dr. Lyons.This is my daughter, this is my son. We have these rules at our house. We’ve talked about these things. I want you to know that I know, and I’m going to be asking them after camp if these things happened. They know their private parts, they know who can touch them. They know they should not be looking at devices. They’re going to come home and tell me what happened. The likelihood of anybody in that situation trying to harm your child is so small.They’re psychopaths. We can’t–
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:59:20]
What do we do about the little children playing with each other?
Clint Davis [0:59:25]
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[0:59:26]
That’s really important. Let’s go through the whole list in the book. There are no closed doors, supervision; I want to hear all those.
When kids come over to my house, the first thing we go is hey, everybody, come here. Nogetting under blankets. Noshutting doors. I’m going to be coming in and checking on you guys every 15, 20 minutes and making sure you’re okay. Keep your hands to yourself. Nobody looks at anybody’s private parts or touches any private parts. Go have fun. Every time. My kids don’t think it’s weird. The otherday, Grady and Jude, they’re going to go– our neighbors, shout out to Jin Ling and Ling. We call them Ling.They came over to take our kids to their house. It’s very rare that we just let our kids go without us, generally because we want to hang out too, because we’re super social. But we trust them. They know the rules. We’ve had all these conversations. Their daughter knows the rules, so I’m like, sure, you can go.They were going to get on bikes and ride over.I was like, Grady, come here, because I was trying to get him to get his helmet on. I wasn’t even going to say, I’d already said the other things. So he comes up, and he’s like, this is my eight-and-a-half-year-old, he’s like, I know, dad. Don’t be rough. Don’t push anybody. Nobody touching my private parts, and he gave me some other benign rule. I was like, yeah, bud.He was like, okay, see you later, and he just left. It wasn’t weird. He lumped it all in the samefamily rules. It wasn’t like, okay, nobody touch my private parts. I know you’re going to make this weird thing about it. He just like, this is what we do. This is our life.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:00:59]
Clint Davis [1:01:00]
Yeah. When they’re in the bathtub– I stopped– they’re not taking baths together anymore.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:01:04]
What age do they stop that?
Clint Davis [1:01:06]
I would say check your kid. It’s age appropriate based on your kid’s exploratorythoughtprocesses. If they’re always grabbing and touching and trying to figure stuff out, it’stime to stop. If they’re fine, and they just take baths, and they don’t say anything about it, and they’re not really paying attention, then you’ll let them keep doing it. But you supervise them. You don’t leave your kids in the bathtub unsupervised, naked. That’s something that opens the door to risk that’s unnecessary. I get it, people are like, well, that’s inconvenient. I’m trying to cook. I’m trying to do these things, I get it. I’m not saying you have to be perfect with it. But do the right thing, the healthy thing seven or eight out of 10 times. If you got to do something, and we all mess up. We’ve all left our kids in the car and ran into grab something or done something.Whatwe’re trying to do is lower the statistical likelihood of all of it, so risk assessment.It’s not saying it’s going to be perfect. It’s not saying things aren’t going to happen. It’s saying, what way can we shift our culture and our family cultures to where that risk is extremely low?
For our kids, once my youngest is trying to grab my oldest his penis and quit poking him in the butt and messing with him, I’m like, okay, you guys are one, you’re splashing water everywhere, it drives me crazy, and two, I just don’t want to have to put you in the position where you have to manage something whenyou’re not doing anything wrong. You’re just being curious, and you’re just trying to mess with your brother. He freaks out when you do it because he’s the older one, and he knows the rules. He’s more of the prude one. My younger one, he’s sticking his penis out of his underwear. He’s coming in and shaking and laughing. I’m just constantly, buddy, I’m writing books about this. Comeon,dude. You have to be light hearted, and that’s the thing. When people hear this information, they freeze up and they start panicking. Your kids are kids.They’regoing to be crazy and silly. Don’t freak out on them. What I’m talking about is what do we do as adults internally? How do we talk as adults with each other and our teachers and our schools? Not how do we talk to our kids? We do need to talk to our kids, but we’re not getting on to them. We’re not freaking out with them. We’re not making sexuality and their bodies these weird things.We’remaking that extremely normal and healthy with them, while also creating adults who are extremely protective and aware. Does that make sense?
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:03:10]
Yes, and basically,what I’m hearing you say is that there are age-appropriate conversations that must be had. There are absolute rules of private parts of who is going to the bathroom, who is not.There are absolute rules of not having secrets, having surprises, really functional, fundamental ways we can have the conversation. I’m also hearing you sayvery transparent and somewhat aggressive conversations with those that are caring for our children.
Clint Davis [1:03:42]
Yes, I would say we live in a culture where we all have so much trauma. It’s funny, I could talk about trauma all day because it’s my favorite thing. I never planned on talking about this or writing this book.I love talking about family trauma and family systems and marriage, and this justhas been, in my opinion,my given path that I have to do.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:04:02]
Because you saw it.
Clint Davis [1:04:05]
I experienced it, and nobody’s saying anything about it. All my friends and all my clients and everybody that in all five of our offices and on podcast, every time I go talk, it’s like this comes up. Somebody brings it up, so it’s like I’m vulnerable about the story. I talk about it. People are like, oh, I want to tell you about what happened to me, and just like at the TED talk. I had somebody come up and tell me, yes, I was abused, and they called their mom in the middle of the TED talk. If that’s what this conversation does for people, that people will open up and get help and not wait till they’re 73, then I don’t care.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:04:37]
I think it’s very noble what you’re doing and so important. It’s so important that we’re taking a break from ournormal scheduled programming, guys, to havethis conversation.One of the things that I’ve seen for individuals in my practice,those individuals that have had sexualtrauma and wait to get over it have a very hard time living a life that is in optimal wellness. I have had many patients that have had sexual trauma. It seems as if it is very black and white. I don’t mean that to be so extreme, but this is just the experience. I’ve been seeing patients since 2006. Thosethat deal with their trauma can talk about it do not have– in your book, you talk about the body keeps score, they move on from that score, they settle that score, and they move on, they can talk about it, and they heal.Those that don’t, those are the ones that have chronic insomnia. Those are the ones that have chronic GI issues. Those are the ones that have significant hypothalamic issues where they’re not menstruating or can’t get pregnant, not to say that that’s everybody. For the men, those are the ones that really have sexual side effects and lower testosterone. Again, I’m not saying that that’s just the only reason, but I have definitely seen over the years those that have unaddressed trauma, especially sexual trauma, struggle.
Clint Davis [1:06:21]
Yeah, because think about it, the thing about sexuality is it is so important and such a normal part of who we are. We can’t separate it out. Whenthat gets violated, when something happens with another child or online or with another person before you’re even in puberty, it shapes everything. It shapesarousal template. Sex addiction—
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:06:43]
What do you mean arousal?
Clint Davis [1:06:45]
Arousal is one of the things that I feel like we need to talk about as a culture more. An arousal template iswhat turns you on? We all have these things that we like. We have different hair colors, different sizes, different sexual things that we likebecause they arouse us more than they arouse somebody else. This is not uncommon knowledge, so that’s not good or bad. The question is, where does that come from scientifically? We should be asking these questions. We should be learning about these.Within the sex addictionworld,International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals, which is called IITAP, we learn about sexual arousal templates.When something happens to you when you were a child and it’s arousing, it starts to paint a pathway for you that you like that. In trauma, it’s the same way.A lot of human trafficking victims or sexual abuse victims, they replicate that trauma and sex later on.It could be pain, it could be pain and compliance, it could be dominance, it could be all kinds of things. It could be submission, it could beaggression. But a lot of times in therapy, if you trace that back, they have an early experience with trauma, sexual trauma or abuse that’s paired with what they’re liking as an adult. That neurology has been shaped to go, I feel a sense of pleasure or empowerment around sexually acting outbecause I was taken advantage of here, and I didn’t have that. Does that make sense?
There’s a lot of things where people watch certain types of pornography because it turns them on in away. It arouses them in a way that normal sexuality doesn’t. One of the problems today isa lot of young men are having erectile dysfunction in the droves because for the first time in history for 10 years, they’ve been masturbating 10 times a day, three times a day and watching porn all day long,so their arousal template has seen so much aggression and so much hypersexuality that having sex with just one person who’s safe and good, it doesn’t do the same thing. We’re chasing pleasure. We replace sexuality with how can I get the best orgasm and the most sex, not how can I be as connected as I need to be to this person and feel safe, which from a psychological perspective, iscrazymaking because just as humans, we seek safety and connection. To do something that is the opposite of safety, it’s counter to how we actually function as humans optimally.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:09:10]
It’s interesting because we see seek safety and connection but because of the influence of the world and the rate at which the world is changing,I do fear for the way humans are designed. We may be designed one way and evolved to be another, but the implications and the evolution of what is going to be happening and what is happening, we have no idea.
Clint Davis [1:09:33]
No, and we’re not even studying it.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:09:35]
We’re not even prepared to deal with these ramifications.
Clint Davis [1:09:37]
There’s an evolutionary psychologist, I can’t think of the book,but they basically described it as a bridge. You’re standing on a pier and there’s a floaty out in the water. This generation jumps on the floaty, it pushes the floaty out a little bit. The next generation jumps on the floaty,it pushes the floatyout. If we push it too far, this generation can’t jump. I feel like that’s what we’ve done with technologyis that it’s good. But because we went in one night from one version of technology to the next, and then we just mass produced it, we’re only about 15 to 17 years into it, totally, andthen we’re only about 12 years into kids having it, andthat’s it. In 2010, Instagram came out. It’s 13 years.We act like we’ve been doing this for100. But we’re right now just seeing the consequences of that change in our culture. Unfortunately, I hope that the phone and social media is like cigarettes.We look up and we go, can you believe we usedto smokeon planes? That’s crazy. Can you believe people used to sit next to each other and smoke in a restaurant while everybody was trying to eat? Literally, the surgeon general warning’s like, it’s going to kill you, and people are like—
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:11:00]
I don’t care.
It’s on the label. It’s telling you it’s going to kill you. I hope that we wake up very soon andlook at social media with kids and phones for kids, especially, and maybe even adults, andgo, I can’t believe we used to do that.Can you believe there’s a decade where we just gave kids phones and let them have social media? The problem is all of the traumatized, hypersexualized, or dead children in between now and then.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:11:25]
It’s so heart breaking.
Clint Davis [1:11:27]
But that is the statistics.That’s not Clint’s opinion. That’s what’s happening, and we’re all aware of it.As I say this, the thing about the book that I love is, I’m not necessarily saying anything new.I’m bringing awareness to things that we’re all aware of, but we don’t know what to do. We have no clue how to talk about it. We’ll talk about in quiet privateconversationsmaybe with our spouse or a friend. But as a culture,it’s happening around us. We’ve all experienced it, we’re all walking and living in it. But it’s also swept underneath the rugthat our next generation of children are in trouble.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:12:05]
Well, with you, being the voice of this, I think that there’s hope.
Clint Davis [1:12:10]
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:12:11]
I think that there’s hope. I know that there’s hope if we can get other individuals on board and listening, we cannot save all our children. The reality is we can’t, but we can do our absolute best.
Clint Davis [1:12:25]
Yes, absolutely. I think there’s a lot of hope. Like I said, I want people to feel like the solutions are very simple. They’re not complicated. The bridge that you’re building is, you love your kid, you want to talk to them, you want to know them. Your kid is wired uniquely for who they are. It’s not a one size fits all, it’s a general conversation, and you have to gear it to who your kid is.Your kid might need you to be throwing a baseball with them and having this conversation.Your kid might need to be sitting face to face drinking coffee in the morning and having this conversation. Your kid might need you to write it down or record it. A lot of kids with autism are on the spectrumor that have neurodiversity. Theyneed different types of communication because they get too overwhelmed.Well, do that for them. The information is no different, it’s just how they receive the information.
The book, I hope, will give a good general guide, wake some people up to the problem. But I hope that we can have way more conversations with each other as adults.I hope people can come out of the woodworks with other solutions and other things that can help mehave this conversation go bigger and bigger and more and more. I really think that we can look up in 10 or 15 years and have a group of parents and kids who know how to protect themselves, who know how to keep their kids safeonline and in person, and thatnext generation, that impacts human trafficking, pornography, all the things that are the worst things that are affecting human beings that are dehumanizing so many people, so many women, so many children, so many men, that if this next generation can have a healthy view of themselves and sexuality, and we don’t expose them to all of these things, that they’ll be the ones who are resilient enough to go, hey, let’s make an impact on these things.This all comes from here. I mean, human trafficking is just a consequence of all of this stuff.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:14:19]
It’s created an appetitefor something that should not be.
Yes, on demand. If there was no supply,there wouldn’t be a demand. That’s one of the things I speak about it at the human trafficking conferences is what creates a trafficker or pimp? What creates a guy who would buy a prostitute?We wrotewhat’s called a John school. With our DEA in our city, guys that get picked up for first- or second-time offenses for prostitution, they come and they learn about their own trauma, and their own neglect and their own exposure. What I try to do is I tell them every beginning, I say,listen, guys, I truly believe if you would know what I’m about to tell you before you did it, you wouldn’t have done it. Because every one of them they– some of them drive Mercedes, some of them dive beat up pickup trucks. It’s across socio-economic problem. What they think is something different than what’s true. I’ve had one guy said, he said, man, this is the first thing I’ve ever heardthat’s ever really helped me understand me andhow these women feel. He said, everything else has felt like band aids on bullet holes. I said, man, I’m glad that it’s helpful. He ended up going to therapy in my practice and getting some help.
But it’s the shame.What I really want to alleviate for people is shame. Shame is different than guilt. Guilt is what I did is bad, and I don’t like how I’m being. Shame is I’m bad, and I have no worth. Sexual trauma and abuse and family trauma and so much more, there’s so many people walking around in deep shame, that I’m not good. I’m not worthy. I’m not lovable. I’m not safe. That’s just not true.I believe God made those people to be loved and to be valued and to be safe, regardless of external factors, regardless of if they screwed up and let their kid have a phone, or if they’ve seen porn, or if they’ve been abused, or even if they’ve abused somebody else. They have intrinsic worth and value, and they’re worthy of reconciliation and redemption and healing.
But we as a society have to do it as a society. We’ve moved into a an individualized, these people are bad, andI would never do that. How could they? When we ask, how could they, maybe we should figure it out. Maybe we should go,let’s actually pause and go, how did this happen?That’s the beauty, in my opinion, of therapy and working with people in relationships is you get to hear stories. I’ve never had a person who I’ve gotten to know and sat on the couch with or sat over coffee with and heard their story, and then looked at their behavior and been like, well, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m like, of course you did that. Of course, you’re looking at porn. Of course, you hit your wife.Of course,you abused someone. Of course, you cheated on your taxes. Of course, you do these things. Look what you went through. You went through some things that as a childyou never should have experienced ever in your life. You weren’t protected. You weren’t educated. You weren’t equipped. What were you supposed to do?
That doesn’t mean you don’t take responsibility as an adult and make some changes. But what it does is this inner child inside of us who feels so much shame, it lets them go, you know what, I have power inside of me, and I can do something different. I can make a change as an adult. I got to stop blaming my childhood self and blaming myself for all these things. I got to take responsibility moving forward. I think that’s how we get out of the victim mindset. We have to acknowledge that maybe we’re a victim at one time. But we’re not going to stay a victim. We’re going to move out of that. We’re going to use our story for other people’s good.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:17:45]
Clint Davis, thank you so much.This conversation is critical. I’m going to encourageeveryone at the beginning when I do your intro that they must listen and must listen to the whole thing. You were doing incredible work. I’m so grateful that you spent this time with me. The book is called—
Clint Davis [1:18:04]
Building Better Bridges.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon[1:18:07]
We will connect to it. It’sBuilding Better Bridges: A Guidebook To Having Difficult Conversations That Can Save Our Kids. You do have a practice.
Clint Davis [1:18:15]
Yes, Clint Davis Counseling & Integrative Wellness. We have five locations in Louisiana. We’re on Instagram, Clint Davis Counseling, and Facebook. Again, follow us, share our stuff. I have a podcast called Asking Why with Clint Davis.We get into all these discussions.I have different guests on, and weget into the nitty gritty of why are these things happening, whether it’s trafficking or parenting or how do I parent little boys and little girls and teenagers and all kinds of things. I would love for you guys to support that and follow us and help us just make the world better. Thank you so much for having me on, always a pleasure to spend time with you.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon [1:18:54]
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